Mortuary workers seek COVID-19 vaccine priority

A man who almost lost his life while working for a prominent Atlanta funeral home believes mortuary employees statewide should be considered first responders. 

"It was the 28th of April. I was in a coma and I almost lost my life," 59-year-old Jarvis Wilson said tearfully. 

The Willie A. Watkins funeral home employee came dangerously close to death, fighting the coronavirus back in April.

He was on a ventilator for 3 weeks. Doctors placed him into a medically induced coma after contracting the deadly virus while picking up a covid positive body from an Atlanta hospital. His experience is still emotional.


"They told my family if I made it out, I would be a miracle, but I got a praying family," Mr. WIlson shared as his voice cracked. 

Wilson, who is also an accomplished musician.  and his boss, funeral home owner Willie A. Watkins,  believe the state should prioritize funeral home employees as first responders when it comes to distributing the life saving vaccine.

"We have not been recognized at all. For us not to be in line to get the vaccine shot is deplorable," Willie A. Watkins remarked. Watkins handled funeral serviced for Congressman John Lewis, Dr. C.T. Vivian and Mrs. Coretta Scott King. 


The Georgia Department of Public Health says funeral home employees are in category 1B, behind seniors 65 and older and their caregivers and first responders like police and fire.

 Mr. Watkins and Mr. Wilson believe hundreds of funeral home employees statewide are at risk.

"We are front line people too and if anybody... I will disagree with anybody who says you can't catch that virus from a dead body. Yes you can, I am a living witness," Mr. WIlson concluded.

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